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Classic of the Week

The Minutemen, "Double Nickels on the Dime" (1984); SST

January 06, 1994|JON MATSUMOTO

If punk rock principally was about breaking the rules, the Minutemen may have been its most impressive practitioners: The trio from San Pedro immediately established itself as a band that was going to lead, not follow.

Largely eschewing the primitive guitar fury that fueled Southern California's incendiary hard-core punk movement, the Minutemen opted instead for a sound that freely and deftly combined rock, funk, jazz and experimental textures.

"Double Nickels on the Dime" may be their definitive recorded statement. With a whopping 43 tracks that total a mere 74 minutes (they weren't called the Minutemen for nothing), the disc reflects the extensive scope of the band's ambition and originality. Such tracks as "It's Expected I'm Gone" spotlight the 'Men's predilection for free-form bass-drum-guitar mini-jams. "This Ain't No Picnic" exemplifies their gift for whipping up the occasional straightforward rocker.

The rousing "Picnic" is uplifted by a booming chorus shouted out by bassist Mike Watt and guitarist D. Boon, whose death in a van accident in 1985 cut short the group's existence (though Watt and Minutemen drummer George Hurley continue on as Firehose).

Wonderful weirdness also abounds on this album, which includes a melody purging cover of Steely Dan's "Dr. Wu," an out-of-left-field acoustic guitar instrumental and an offbeat song featuring a tribal rhythm and chanted nonsense.

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